Several lesbian novels explore a world where women create babies without male gametes. In them, some kind of apocalypse makes it possible and required for women living along together to figure out a male-free reproduction strategy. My favorite from the 80's was Charnas's Motherlines which not only delivers on a lesbian desire to sire their own children, but uses the young woman-horse bond in a way that delivers on other desires as well. Last week I read an interesting story in SciAm which I can't find on-line yet.
According to the story, discredited biologist Woo Suk Hwan who claimed to extract stem cells from cloned cells actually was the first reach the lesbian dream: his team was the first to achieve human parthenogensis.
The stem cells claimed to be extracted from the first cloned human embryo... owe their existence to parthenogenesis, in which egg cells give rise to embryos without being fertilized by sperm. A series of genetic markers sprinkled throughout the cells' chromosomes shows the same pattern found in parthenogenic mice as apposed to cloned mice. The result... suggests that Hwang and his group were the first to achieve human parthenogenesis but failed to recognize it. (International Stem Cell in Oceanside, Calif., announced successful human parthenogenesis this past July.)
International Stem Cell Corporation, “ISCO” is a California company that has developed, for the first time under controlled conditions, human stem cell lines that promise to eliminate the rejection of transplanted cells by the patient’s immune system. ISCO’s technology, called parthenogenesis, results in the creation of pluripotent human stem cell lines (called phESC) from unfertilized human eggs. This new methodology offers the potential to create the first “Stem Cell Bank” with the capacity to provide rejection-resistant stem cells that can become any cell in the human body, and also addresses critical ethical issues by eliminating the need to use fertilized embryos. ISCO also produces and sells the Lifeline brand of specialized cells and growth media worldwide for therapeutic research.
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